Love is where you don’t have to say I LOVE YOU, but when it is palpable and the hearts beat in unison across continents and oceans…as it did in our case

How We Kept Our Love Intact Across Two Continents

long distance relationship, Dr Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan, Sumathi Chakravarthy

Today we are sharing the impeccable cross-continent love story of Sumathi Chakravarthy, Partner-Director, Infinite Sum Modelling - Seattle based Economics Consulting firm and her spouse Dr Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan who is the Vision India @ 2047 Head at the Niti Ayog (as of December 2022) and formerly the Lead Adviser and Head of Trade and Commerce at NITI Aayog till Nov 2022. This week, we traverse through the emotions of a couple - their story of love, sacrifice, adjustments and more, especially when Dr Badri had to move to India to serve the nation, leaving behind two small children with his wife in Seattle, during the COVID19 pandemic. How did they ensure that neither the love nor the life was lost during those sudden and severe winds of change? Let’s hear them out…in their one voice and feel their emotions.


"We both are Tamilians from India, and Dr Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan who had done his PhD in India was settled in the US. I was working as a Software  Engineer, and wanted to do an MBA in the US. So, when our horoscopes through family links matched, it was not just a dream come true to do my MBA but also find a man who had similar likes and dislikes. To the world, Badri is a very reputed guy and a man of few words, but I found a great friend in him. He is quite intelligent! I am turned on by intellectual people. Five minutes into the conversation, I knew it was him because I could talk endlessly heart to heart with him," Sumathi Chakravarthy begins unfolding their love story before and after their arranged marriage. 

Yes, theirs is a love story post an arranged marriage. Dr Badri blushes and recalls, "Sumati was very easy to talk to, a kind human. We spoke about each others likes-and-dislikes and basic things. I had spoken to others also, but the level of comfort I had with her was uncanny. At that time, the US recession was happening so both her parents and mine were suspicious about me retaining my job or not, etc. Apprehensions were there, but she wasn't suspicious or uneasy about anything. She was cool, simple and easy going, straightforward. Irrespective of me being diplomatic."

And then the match happened! And so did the kids! 

In 2009 they got married and while she was studying at Purdue University where Dr Badri taught Economics, she was carrying their first child while writing her GMAT, GRE etc all exams! 

Sumathi recalls, "That was 2010 we had our first kid…our daughter Anagha. Till 2012, I took a brief break and then resumed studies and later did my MBA. When I resumed studies, at times I would come back at 3AM. Badri was looking after the kid, so impeccably that despite our mothers being here, I would be more comfortable with my child with my husband. He has been a very hands-on father, despite being such an involved working professional." 

Come 2017 when Sumathi gave birth to their son Hari. She recalls, "I was working with Amazon, as a senior product manager. My work was very vast at that time because Amazon was picking up globally that era. The time was very tough, but Badri was again by my side looking after the kids." So didn't Badri feel the pinch of having the wife not taking a break again? 

Dr Badri asserts, "Why? No. It was a nice feeling. My daughter was an easy child to raise. The son was a very naughty kid. So it was like juggling two different Poles of the Earth! But then, as a father I felt a good opportunity to bond with the kids. How many fathers get that? Their grandparents would keep dropping in to help, but emotionally I felt a very happy and proud father.”

Their eyes meet with immense love and Sumathi adds, "One thing, I ensured that while in Amazon, I worked from home, to balance out his work travels.


Times were going on smoothly till 2021, when Dr Badri joined the Niti Aayog in India, in October 2021. Dr. Badri moved to India. Now that was the testing time. How would a family live, love and thrive across two continents? Especially when Sumathi didn't want to move to India at all and Dr. Badri wanted to serve the nation. What happened then? My anxious heart beats could be heard into my headphones, while on call with them! 

Sumathi asserts, "It was a huge opportunity for Badri. But I had quit Amazon in early 2020 because we co-founded our own consulting firm in 2015…we have now a team of ten. An economic consulting firm. So Badri moving to India, the thought itself was a big jolt. Also, after losing my sister-in-law to cancer  in the same year, I was undergoing Post Traumatic Stress and didn’t want to visit India for some more time. Also my son Hari is super hyper active, it wasn't possible to find a school immediately that supported me in India. So many things to do in Seattle, so I knew I had to be here."

Here Dr Badri gets a bit emotional, "It is exactly not as she sums with so much ease. It is deeper in decision and painful. She has been my rock. In Jan 2021 I got an interview call at Niti Aayog and soon they hired me; I was asked to move to India. But since we lost a close family member nearly the same time and since my wife was going through a lot of trauma, I called the Niti Aayog to decline the job offer as the Lead Adviser and Head of Trade and Commerce at NITI Aayog, in India.  But by then my papers had come to the level of the Prime Minister of India. So, my NO could shut the doors on others who come from abroad as it would  get tough for the governments to engage internationally."

Dr. Badri continues, "Sumathi and I felt we should stay there for a full three-years tenure. But then Niti Aayog informed us that I could keep traveling back to the US. This was a huge relief, so I discussed the same again with Sumathi. By then Sumathi realized that I valued this position at the Niti Aayog extremely dearly. And after a good discussion we decided to take up this as a joint responsibility."


Dr. Badri promised her that he would be back as soon as possible after creating a good impact in India. “I was deeply grateful to my wife, because she would be handling a hell lot more than me! At my age, being posted as the Lead Adviser and Head of Trade and Commerce at NITI Aayog, India was a huge accomplishment thanks to my wife's support. My daughter is quite sensitive and attached to her father. So it was a very tough move. Hari was anyway being handled by me and was learning to express. And they did miss me..and I knew that I had to be back soon with them.”

It is but natural for me to ask, what kept them glued despite the distance? And how did they plan the break during which Dr. Badri would fly back to the US? 

Dr. Badri informs, "Our daughter was born within the first year of our wedding, so our life cannot be without kids. So it's the four of us, who would stay connected regularly on video calls. And I made sure that I would fly back to the US at every opportunity we had. And that’s when we enjoyed our kids' time at a picnic or our me-time watching the OTT, movies, etc.”

Sumathi stares at him saying, "Badri, we don't have a common taste for movies okay? We have kind of developed it." And we all laugh together! 

Sumathi adds, "With kids we do a lot of things  - picnics, cycling etc a lot. We go out, we trek. We don't have a huge social life, so we are a close knit four, with a very small close social circle. And this circle whether via video calls when he was away or via spending every possible moment together when he was home - this is what kept us glued together." 


Here I am bound to assert that there is no couple which doesn't have a share of arguments over differences of opinion. How do they ensure no souring of the relationship, despite the long-distance? 

Dr. Badri smiles and says, "Yes Mahima, like any other couples, we do have our own conflicts, fights and arguments. She is very disciplined and organized. At times she crosses limits to that too, which is negative and sometimes irritates me."

On the other hand Sumathi tells me, "I find him an unorganized lazy man but his kindness and calm take over whatever I don't like about him. That wins me over all the time. He might say we fight, but I would say we argue like any other couple. Healthy conflicts that make you create a disciplined lifestyle is good. Also because I have to manage so much when he is not in the US."

Dr. Badri chuckles in, “Look Mahima, I want to help her in the kitchen, but she says the best help is don't come there is the biggest help!”

Sumathi rolls her eyes and talks to me straight into my face, “Tell me Mahima who puts Karela  (bitter gourd) in a khichadi? Like who? Name one chef or Indian who does that?” I can’t stop laughing while she goes on, “And Badri, who will fix the kitchen when you are out after the mess you and kids create? No way, better I run it. Oh yes, tell me who makes Pongal with Toor Daal?”

Dr. Badri can’t stop laughing and so do I. He tries to save his face, “But my friends loved the Khichdi, Sumathi; they even took it home! I am just an innovative chef!” And we all burst into laughter when she says she can innovate this elsewhere and not in her kitchen! 


It’s time for them to take their kids for a weekend hike. So Sumathi wraps the chat by saying, “There is no prescription for love or compatibility. Relationships are like bread that has to be baked from all sides! There are compromises, there are adjustments and there are support systems each one needs. One has to hold hands and move together slowly gradually, even if arguments happen. Resolve it, because it's the same roof, it is home. How can you break a home over conflicts? Kill the ego together, if you can't then compromise! But keep the value and sanctity of the relationship. Be vocal about your emotions when you feel the pressure. Stay transparent.”

Dr Badri looks into her eyes, turns to me and asserts, “She is again being very kind, but the best is to avoid long distance relationships as much as possible. Not mentally healthy for a long time, short time is fine. Stay on video calls and in-touch regularly. In short, keep a deadline to be together again.” 

They both sum up by adding, “ Love is where you don’t have to say I LOVE YOU, but when it is palpable and the hearts beat in unison across continents and oceans…as it did in our case. We agree that expression of love is very important, but love thrives with trust, time and consistent communication, so never lose on that!”


The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of Baely or the Journalist. Neither Baely nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same.

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media.
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